Top-three qualifiers transcript for the first rounds at Brands Hatch with: Sebastien Bourdais, Bruno Junqueira and Paul Tracy Eric Mauk: Good afternoon and welcome to our provisional pole qualifying press conference for the London Champ Car ...
Top-three qualifiers transcript for the first rounds at Brands Hatch with: Sebastien Bourdais, Bruno Junqueira and Paul Tracy
Eric Mauk: Good afternoon and welcome to our provisional pole qualifying press conference for the London Champ Car Trophy, round four of the Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford. Our third fastest qualifier on the day is Sebastien Bourdais, driver of the #2 Lilly Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone. In first day qualifying, he finished third, with a best lap of 37.112 seconds, 115.628 miles per hour. Sebastien has started on pole in two of the first three events of the season. Sebastien, tell us a little bit about your day.
Sebastien Bourdais: I think it was a good one. We were second this morning during the practice session, finally finished third this first qualifying, so I'm pretty happy with that. It's always a compromise between push and staying on the track. So I tried really hard to secure the performance today because we never know what's going to happen tomorrow. So it was really important. And the car was really good. I think we worked well this morning with my Lilly car.
Mauk: Sunny this morning. Cloudy this afternoon. Not a great difference in temperature, however. Was there much of a difference out there?
Bourdais: No. To me the grip level was pretty impressive. The tires went up to speed pretty quickly, and I was satisfied with the balance. Just like you say, "All right, so now have you two choices: either you push really hard and you have the possibility to do a mistake or you try to temperate a bit yourself and, all right, we'll see tomorrow."
Mauk: Congratulations. Good luck tomorrow. Second on the day is Bruno Junqueira, driver of the #1 PacifiCare Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone. A best lap of 37.022 seconds, 115.910 miles per hour. Bruno is second in the point standings after three races but will be looking for his first front row starting spot of the year tomorrow. Bruno, congratulations. How do you feel about the way things went today?
Bruno Junqueira: Thank you. I think was a good day today. Unfortunately, just lost the pole by thousandths of a second. But I think the PacifiCare, Newman/Haas team did a great job, I think. Right off the trailer, the car was very good in the first session. We were second fastest. I never see this track before. For the second session, did a change, but the car wasn't too good. And you kind of slip a little bit. Then came back on the change and did some other changes for qualifying, and the car was quite good in qualifying. I was able to put a good lap time, but not enough to catch Tracy. But I think with one night's sleep, I think about the track, I think tomorrow I'll drive a little bit better around here. And we going to try to improve the car, as well, to see if we can move up a little bit tomorrow.
Mauk: Obviously, neither one of you had driven on this track before. How tough a track is this to learn?
Junqueira: I think that's a short track, there are not many corners, but every single corner is quite difficult - especially turn one and the last turn. Turn one is because it's a blind corner, then is very difficult to get the brake point and the turning point to hit the apex right. And last turn because it's such a long corner, come from a very fast chicane, it's difficult to brake, difficult to get the right line and to put the power down, as well. Those are the two most difficult corners of the track.
Mauk: Congratulations, good luck tomorrow.
Junqueira: Thank you.
Mauk: Our provisional polesitter is Paul Tracy, driver of the #3 Player's/Forsythe Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone. He paced today's session with a best time of 37.006 seconds, 115.960 miles per hour. The effort gives Paul another championship point, boosting his total to 65, widening his lead over Bruno to 27 points.
It also guarantees Paul a front row starting spot in Monday's race, meaning that our points leader has started in the front row for each of the first four races of the year, the first time in your career, Paul, that you have put four front row starting spots together. Are you beginning to surprise yourself now?
Paul Tracy: I guess I'm starting to impress myself because I've never been a great qualifier. But I really have to thank Team Player's. They've given me a great car at every race. I've been able to do a good job on Friday. I would like to do it on Saturdays, it would be more beneficial, but to guarantee a front row spot is obviously great. And today was good. I wasn't really paying attention to the flag out there and I kind of missed how many laps that I did. I wasn't concentrating on how many laps I did. I thought I had one more lap. And then the team said, after the first turn, I had one more lap to go. You know, I thought I had two. And, you know, I really had to push hard in the last half of the lap to get the time.
Mauk: Obviously, it's been a long time since you've been here. You raced here early, early on in your career. Is it a place that comes back to you fairly quickly?
Tracy: Yeah, for sure. I raced here in '86 in Formula Ford 2000. Again, it's a long time since I drove on the track. But once you get out there, it's still the same track. So I was able to pick it up quite quickly this morning and be quick right away, and the car has been good right away. You know, we came here with two different styles of setup for myself and Pat. And Pat struggled today, this morning. And he was able to put my setup on and he moved up the grid pretty well. So, you know, we need to work on it tomorrow. Obviously, to beat the Newman/Haas team, we have to work harder tomorrow.
Mauk: Congratulations. We'll go ahead and take questions from the audience now.
Q: They went to single-car qualifying in Formula 1 this year. Trying it for the first time here. What are your thoughts on that and possibly for the future?
Tracy: I think it's good for this venue because the track is so small. With 19 or 20 cars out there, it would be very difficult to try and get a clear lap. I think, you know, here the track has been very consistent. You don't seem to have, you know, the highs and the lows of track grip maybe versus what we have in the States for some reason.
But, you know, I think my only issue is because we don't have tire warmers, that it takes so much longer to do a run that if you had weather problems, whether it be rain or anything like that, or, you know, you could have one guy go out in the dry or half the field go in the dry and half the field go in the wet at some of the venues we go to. So that would be pretty difficult for, you know, some people to swallow because you want to be the last one to go and you can get caught up. Formula 1, they can do in the time in one lap. It takes us five or six laps. It takes quite a long time to complete the whole field.
Junqueira: Yeah, I think he said everything. I think this track has been good for that because, as Paul said, it's not improving a lot during a run. But if you go to a street track, I mean, the first three or four guys, they going to be -- they going to have the track one second slower than the last three guys, if doesn't rain. But on the other hand, it is very nice to have no traffic, you know. And sometimes, as well, you can have the rain but sometimes you can have traffic or red flag that are able to put the car in the front row and start seven or eight. That's happen with me this year and happen with some other guys, as well. You know, it's difficult to make a decision. But this is not a bad idea.
Tracy: I think it's a good idea for here, but the track is also 36 seconds long. If we were to do single-car qualifying at Elkhart and give five time laps, it would be 15 minutes per car being out there. So, I mean, some tracks it's not possible to do.
Junqueira: I agree.
Q: For Paul, What sort of pressure are you starting to feel? You're winning every week.
Tracy: No, I feel the same. You know, I think for me, when you're winning, your confidence comes up. You know, when you're not winning and things aren't going well, that's when you maybe put pressure on yourself to do well - at least that's how I handle things. I put more pressure on myself when things aren't going well. And when things are going well, they just come naturally. So, you know, right now I feel good and I'm working well on the team, and that's what's most important. When I go out, I go out on the track with confidence.
Q: All three of you, if you wish. This track is obviously very mentally and physically demanding. You're always turning. You have a 165-lap race on Monday. It's going to be very mentally and physically demanding. If the three of you could just talk about how you look at the race from that point of view.
Tracy: Well, I think for sure the corners are here very quick. For such a small track, you know, the chicane in the back before the last corner, we're doing 150 plus miles an hour. Turn one is 120 plus line corner, very high Gs. So, you know, it's going to be a long race, for sure. And there's no straightaway to catch your breath. So I guess the fittest guys will survive at the end of the day.
Junqueira: I think this track will be difficult for two reasons. Some of our races, it's difficult, some road courses, street courses, it's difficult physically because they are very long, and this one is going to be the same. But this racetrack has a little bit, because you don't have straight lines, a little bit like when you race in short ovals, that you have to pay attention 100% of the time. When you race short ovals, or ovals, physically it's very easy, but mentally it's very difficult. I think the end of the day you have a little bit of headache or your eyes are really tired. I think this race will be a combination of physical, will be really difficult, and the concentration will be difficult, as well. For sure, it's going to be physically and mentally a tough race.
Q: Sebastien, anything to add?
Bourdais: As the last one, I don't have very much to say. But for sure it's also going to be pretty hard with traffic because if it rains, we have no idea what's going on. And if it's dry, for sure, if you are ahead of the pack, you're going to rejoin the (field?) pretty early and it's very difficult to pass. So we have probably see a great show on Monday.
Q: Are you having fun out there?
Tracy: I wouldn't be doing it if I didn't enjoy what I was doing, so... Sure, I love what I do. That's why I continue to do it.
Bourdais: This track is very funny. It's obviously a very small track, but the corners are really good. When you are alone on the track, there is no way not to get fun. But the thing is, when you will be racing with 20 other cars, it's probably going to be a different deal.
Mauk: Thank you all for coming. Tomorrow's final qualifying sets the field for Monday's 165-lap London Champ Car Trophy event. The session begins at 1:45.